Peacekeeping and the Universal
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Peacekeeping and the Universal The Universal Declaration of Human Rights cam into existence on December 10, 1948 when the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Following this historic act the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicise the text of the Declaration and "to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories." The idea was to proclaim a set of rights to which all peoples of the world were entitled. The truth of the nature of the world and of society in general is that this declaration is not always upheld in all of the member countries of the UN. Fascist regimes still exist, ethnic cleansing still goes on, and people are still persecuted for their beliefs. The question is what should be done when a government refuses to uphold the declaration and instead persecutes, discriminates, or treats members of its own society in a cruel and or inhuman manner. Is it just for the United Nations to authorise military action against these countries? Should the UN use destructive force to insure that citizens are not tortured, or harmed unjustly by their governments? Is it just for force to be used to prevent harm? The ethics of this question are far reaching and have a major impact on the way that a UN mission to various countries to protect citizens takes place. A poll being conducted at http://www.cbcnews.cbc.ca asked readers the following question; "Is NATO justified in launching strikes against Yugoslavia?"
A large portion of current public opinion seems to say that we are content to sit back in our armchairs and say that we believe that all human beings should be entitled to basic human rights. However when it means that we have to get up off our butts to make sure that they do, well we just are not willing to do it, besides there are more interesting things watch on TV then the depressing images that come across on CNN. An interesting twist on the whole question to note is the existence of peacekeeping military training institutes. In Canada we have the Lester B Pearson Peacekeeping Training Centre, and in the US there is the International Peace Academy. Both of these institutions are geared towards training military personal on the proper manner in which to conduct peacekeeping operations. These institutions while not specifically geared toward the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, acknowledge the need for military force in situations when the goal is not military action, but rather military inaction. Is it possible to have military inaction from military action? The answer is in fact yes, it does however depend on the military action that takes place, if a military force were to say go into an country and wipe out all of the other militaries in that country then there would be no more need for military action. While this is really not an ethically acceptable option the fact is that the end result would be military inaction and stability in the region. While that stability may only last for as long as it takes for the parties involved to raise another army.
How is it any different on the global stage? How can we allow infractions to continue hiding behind our desire not to get involved, or to 'let them sort it out on their own, its not our problem anyway.' The Declaration states: "Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights has resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind." "Whereas Member Sates have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms." The reason for us to use force if necessary is right there in the Declaration itself. When we sit back and do nothing then disregard and contempt for human rights results in barbarous acts. While it is definitely best to try to first reach an agreement through discussion and diplomacy, we must recognise that sometimes discussion and diplomacy fail. When that happens we as a group of nations that has signed and declared that human rights are fundamental freedoms that must be allowed to all people, must be ready to stand up for that statement and for those people. If we do not we are nothing more then a society that likes to make statements that make us feel good, but are really nothing more then a society that is all so much rhetoric. At the heart of my argument is the concept that if we are willing to take the responsibility of making a declaration like the Universal Declaration of Human rights, then we must also take the responsibility of making sure that that declaration is upheld. So in the interests of the protection of the fundamental rights and freedoms and dignity of all peoples, yes the United Nations Security Council is justified in authorising military force in order to enforce the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
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